Pawlenty: make sure the rocket you launch can go all the way

“Before you launch the rocket out of here, make sure it’s the rocket that can go all the way to the destination you seek.”  Tim Pawlenty, July 20, 2011.

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty arrived just after 8 o’clock this morning at a church in Ames, Iowa — a couple of miles away from the site of next month’s Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll.  After a one-sentence introduction from a local elected official, Pawlenty launched into his stump speech.

The crowd laughed twice in the first 10 minutes, at Pawlenty’s opening line about why his wife isn’t here (she has to stay home with the teenage daughters, one of whom can drive and both of whom like boys), then with a joke about Milton Friedman. (Yes, this is a college town.)   As Pawlenty talked about market-based health care reform, there were murmurs of support rising from the crowd.

Pawlenty used the phrase “flap you jaw” a few times when contrast his shoulder-to-the-grindstone style to not only President Obama, but his competitors.  The crowd reacted with rolling laughter as Pawlenty talked about how difficult it was for a Republican to govern successfully in a state like Minnesota, and he mentions names like Mondale, Wellstone and Ventura.  (Ventura got the biggest burst of chuckles and giggles.)

Pawlenty, as he has been doing for the past few weeks in Iowa, makes the case that Iowans need to use “great care” and “caution” when selecting a presidential nominee. “You want to pick somebody, I think, who…can actually be the nominee for the party and unite the party, somebody who can actually beat Barack Obama,” Pawlenty said, with extremel emphasis on that “I think” phrase.

Here”s today’s kicker from Pawlenty about the Iowa Caucuses: “Before you launch the rocket out of here, make sure it’s the rocket that can go all the way to the destination you seek.”

Pawlenty made a brief pitch about attendance at the Straw Poll, then launched quickly into a Q&A with the crowd.  He got applause in his answer to a question about the debt ceiling and the federal budget, and he got as animated as he was the whole morning when ridiculing politicians, in general, for pushing decisions ’til “after the next election.”

“We’re just dancing around the edges of it,” Pawlenty said as he wound down, suggesting a few seconds later that candidates should “campaign like we’re going to govern.

Pawlenty used another question to share details about his  biography.  The crowd was rapt when he talked about his mother’s death, how he learned to “lean into my faith” during that period, and his mother’s death-bed request of the rest of Pawlenty’s family — to ensure that Tim Pawlenty be the first person in their family to go to college.  He begins to get murmurs from the crowd as he winds down with his economic message and the potential — as the questioner phrased it — of a “class warfare” gambit by President Obama.  “It’s not an argument on a piece of paper. I’ve lived it,” Pawlenty said toward the close of his answer as he talked about his sort of rags-to-riches/living the American Dream story.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.